This month we will focus on how to build your preschool program.

This month we will focus on how to build your preschool program. Remember to send us your questions at danceteacherweb@aol.com

Q. What is the best way to build a preschool program?

A.  There really is not a quick answer to this question, but there is a series of things you can do to get the word out about your program and to position yourself as the area expert in preschool dance. The first thing we would recommend you do is create a schedule and simple brochure that is only about your preschool classes. Try to offer as many of these classes as possible. The more you offer, the more you will be looked at as an expert in this area. Next, connect with day care or preschool programs in your area and offer to do a free class for them in exchange for their distributing your material to their clients. Then you can do a target mailing in your area to families with children between the ages of 2 and 6. You can get these kinds of lists from your local printer or from infoUSA or another list service. Lastly, contact your local moms’ club and offer a morning session at your school where the children will take class while the moms enjoy coffee, tea and muffins that you provide. To build your preschool program you need to get out of the studio and into the community. Build as many relationships with other businesses that also service this market and arrange reciprocal marketing deals with them.

 

Q. How long do you recommend these classes last for?

A. Our classes are 45 minutes long. The key is to keep switching gears with the children. If you try to have them focus on one thing for too long, you are sure to lose the attention of half of the class. The most important factor for any teacher is to make the class fun yet structured and to be constantly working the room!

 

Q. Do you allow parents to sit in on the class?

A. When preschoolers first start, some may be fearful and will want a parent to come with them. We try to wean them off mom as quickly as possible. Parents, for the most part, are a distraction to the students. It will be harder for you to keep the student focused on what you are doing if mom is in the room. You see, kids have a tendency to behave differently when their parent is in the room with them. Try to encourage your parents to leave for the children’s benefit. Once you get them used to it, there will not be any resistance.

 

Q. What do you recommend is taught during the class?

A. We recommend that you teach a ballet-based class. This will help the young dancer to become aware of their body and how it can move. However, it is important that young dancers do not feel overwhelmed with structure, and they also need to experience different modes of movement that will help them feel the music. It cannot be a free-for-all because children of three years and up are totally capable of learning steps and terminology if it is presented in a fun and stimulating way. It is a good idea to use stories of dance related subjects as this helps them with imagery and again introduces the fun element. Props are also very helpful at this age when used in class to help the children understand the different types of movement.

 

Q. Parents in my area don’t really want to sign up for a long period of time. How many weeks do you offer these classes for?

A. We offer two 15-week sessions from September until May. If they sign up for both in advance they will receive a discount and be guaranteed placement in the class day and time of their choice. We do a small informal performance with these children at the end of each session at a local community center that has a stage. We do several different shows in one day so that the classes are spread out over the day and no show last longer than 40 minutes. The parents love it and the children are not stressed out about being in their performances. This way you can show what they have learned and the parents are more apt to sign them up for another session.

 

Q. What do you look for in a teacher who will be teaching these classes?

A. Personality! This is a must for anyone teaching young children. Of course they need to love teaching young children and be able to reach them on their level. They need to have a good dance foundation. Once you have someone who fits the bill, you can help train them in the way and style that you would like for them to teach the young dancers. We recommend that you do this no matter who you hire! There should be a set syllabus of steps, songs, ideas and props that will be used. Our teachers are welcome to bring in new ideas encompassing any of the above as long as they review it with us. The key is to have consistency in the training as this will avoid problems, especially if there is a switch of class or teacher.